Rise of the Argonauts Review

We go in search of the Golden Fleece.

Review by Darren Cartledge
Published 10th February 2009

Rise of the Argonauts

  • Developer: Liquid Games
  • Publisher: Codemasters
  • Release Date: 6th February 2009

Greek Mythology is full of tales of amazing adventures, epic battles and great heroes. All the ingredients for a role-playing game so there’s no wonder Liquid Games choose one such hero for the subject of their latest action role-playing hybrid, but does it live up to the legendary status or will it incur the wrath of Zeus.

Rise of the Argonauts is loosely based on the story of Jason and his quest to find the Golden Fleece. Instead of searching for the fleece in order to reclaim his throne, in the game Jason is doing it for love, as during his wedding ceremony his wife to be is assassinated by a mysterious archer. Jason swears he will find a way to bring her back and so sets out on his quest but not before he receives the blessing of the Gods Apollo, Athena, Hermes and Ares.

So off sets Jason on his ship the Argo, this acts as a hub between the games various levels. Rise of the Argonauts is a party orientated RPG and on board the Argo you can talk to the Argonauts that have joined you in your quest and learn about the various aspects of the gods and so on. On board the Argo you can also manage your equipment, swapping your armour, weapons and the like.

The game focuses heavily on combat, although this isn’t a bad thing as the game implements a good, although simple fighting system that allows you to use a variety of weapons to pull off impressive combos. Jason is armed with a sword, mace, and spear and a shield for protection. He is able to perform powerful combos with these three weapons as well as pull of devastating special moves. For instance during a sword attack you are able to quickly swap to one of your other weapons, inflicting a massive amount of damage on an enemy or even finishing them off completely. Jason is also able to perform execution moves that switch the games action to slow motion as he slices them in half or cuts their head off, making this role-playing adventure particularly brutal.

The games combat system is very easy to get to grips with and unlike some other games you don’t have to worry about the challenge they pose. But despite this ease of use most of the game action resorts to simple button mashing to dispose of enemies, and only occasionally you will be required to utilise some the more advanced combat moves featured in the game.

Jason doesn’t always have to resort to combat and you can at times use speech to try and achieve his objective. The game features a dialogue system similar to that featured in Mass Effect. With responses in certain situations timed in order to put pressure on you, to decide what response to give. Just as if you were in the real situation. It’s a good system that helps draw the player more into the role of Jason.

Sadly, the game doesn’t offer as many character development options as other role-playing games do. You are able to swap and change your armour, weapons and so on, which improve certain abilities but that’s about it. The game does feature God Powers which are granted to Jason by spending Aspect points that are awarded for completing deeds that give you favour with the gods. These powers give you special abilities such as generating a decoy for enemies to attack or making a ray of light shine down from the heavens which heels Jason and so on.

As the game is a party based adventure this has allows the games developers to include some of the better known characters from Greek mythology such as Medusa, Hercules and Achilles. Two characters are able to join you each time you go to shore, all obviously have their own unique skills to bring to each adventure and on occasion you will be required to take a specific companion before you set out. Other then that companions simply serve to assist you during combat and pretty much do as they like since the game doesn’t employ a command system for them.

The games story is fairly complex! However, Rise of the Argonauts is not the longest role-playing game offering around 10 to 12 hours of gameplay. The challenge on offer is pretty limited as well. Enemies attack in overwhelming numbers, and not only will you be fighting men, but minions and beasts from mythology however it’s far too easy to dispatch of them as they all behave the same during combat and, despite being equipped with shields it is relatively easy to break their guard. You will also come up against some pretty formidable looking boss battles that are sadly far too easy to overcome once you figure out what attacks work on them. Some of the bosses are huge and could have made for very entertaining level end climaxes! However you can’t help feel they’re too weak. The game also insists on you having to sit through some fairly long dialogue sequences time and time again after being defeated, this can be fairly annoying as you will simply want to resume the battle you lost.

The games playing experience is further spoilt by a number of bugs, frequent crashes, freezes in menus being the main source of frustration here. Other problems encountered included character sprites not loading along with sound files during dialogue and battle sequences which resulted in the need to re-load the game. Thankfully, Rise of the Argonauts includes an auto save feature so you never lose too much progress.

Rise of the Argonauts is visually good! Environments are varied and highly detailed and include lush jungles, misty swamps and intricate Greek palaces. Character models are also very good, with brilliantly animated faces, which feature such details as freckles, moles, wrinkles and so on. It’s not just characters faces that feature a good amount of detail. Their clothing also looks fantastic with elaborate patterns adorned to armour and the weave of clothing all visible. The game looks absolutely stunning at times, with brilliant effects for fog, light and magic.

Sound is also of the highest standard, voice acting is performed superbly and often portrays the characters emotion well. The games orchestral soundtrack really adds to the atmosphere and is very fitting with the sombre nature of the story, although it does pick up for battle sequences which gives fighting that extra edge.

Whilst Rise of the Argonauts doesn’t feature the level of character customisation most role-playing fans have come to expect from the genre, it does offer an epic adventure filled with heroes and great battles and despite having a few frustrating bugs and gameplay flaws it still offers a fairly enjoyable playing experience that will keep you hooked until the conclusion of its epic journey.

Review Score: 7.4/10

Please note, this review was scored using our old system. For more information please see our review policy.

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